In many homes across the country today, life is no longer bearable as a result of biting socio-economic realities. Workers’ salaries have been pending for months in many states. In this piece, ROSEMUND OFOEGBU CHINEDU takes a look at how families and traders alike are coping with the high cost of living and doing business in Nigeria at the moment
The reduction in the value of naira to dollar, high cost of fuel and frequent power cuts have being attributed to the decrease in the standard of living of Nigerians.
Although, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has made efforts to put stringent monetary policies in place to stabilise market prices, the prices of goods and services are steadily rising throughout the country.
Since the beginning of the year, the country’s economic activities have been in sort of a lock jam. Various opinions have suggested the reasons for the causes to include the snail pace towards the passage of the national budget which has been signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, the fall in the value of the naira, electricity cuts, and late rain which has crippled farming activities, especially in the north, and among others.
If you bought something in the market today, try buying the same thing tomorrow with the same amount of money and you will be shocked at the price you will be told by traders.
It has been a norm in Nigeria that, whenever the price of a product or service in the market goes up, it takes the intervention of an unseen power to bring it down, even after the factors responsible for the problem have normalised.
After carrying out a market research on Kuje Market in Abuja, the results revealed that there have been some changes in the prices of almost everything sold in the market from what it was few months ago.
Examples are: a kilo of meat sold at N1,200 was previously sold at N1,000. A N100 plate of tomato now sells for N300, if one even finds to buy. One mudu of garri which was once sold for N100/N120 now sells for N200. A bottle of groundnut oil sold for N250 currently sells for N350.
A manageable bunch of waterleaf which was bought for N50 now sells for N100 at half the quantity earlier sold for N50. A bag of rice bought previously for N12000 is now N18,500. One mudu of N500 milk is now sold for N700 and our very own Okrika clothes, which was happily bought N100 now sells at N200/N250. A bag of tomatoes sold two months ago for N1,500 now sells at a whooping sum of N26,000!
All these changes have been attributed to stringent importation policies, insufficient agricultural produce, poor infrastructure, restricted transportation due to the activities of Boko Haram and the fluctuations in fuel supply to the nation to power the economy.
Everybody is complaining due to the stand-still position the country’s economy has taken. Public opinion has it that the reason for the current situation the country is in is the resultant effect of serial bad governance, challenge of demand and supply, Boko Haram self acclaimed “crusade” and farmers inability to access needed sources for their productions.
Asking some shop owners how they cope with the changes, some said they engage in extensive face-to-face advertisement to win customer patronage, offer freebies and sometimes operate N1,000 shops, to sell off their goods.
To restock their shops, they either engage in part payment with their manufacturers, credit sales, franchising or advance payment for the purchase of goods.
They also indicated that when they go to banks for loans, the banks shy away or give them long and difficult steps to take, which in the end, they drop the idea due to frustrations encountered.
While asking some of the people in the market on what recommendations to give to tackle these price inflations, they said that the government should diversify its economy and shift their attention, especially to agriculture, to ensure that we produce most of what we consume. It is not everybody that has the foreign currency to purchase imported goods and services as most Nigerians earn naira and still spend it within the country, thus making the purchase of imported goods expensive or unattainable.
Some said Nigerians should stop doing the blame game and opt for alternatives to survive while being patient with the FG as this situation is not entirely their fault. According to this group of people, the FG should holistically tackle this inflation problem, as this is the worst Nigeria have ever witnessed. The need to re-orientate the people’s thinking and mindset towards the changes is highly relevant in order to give them a sense of belonging and let them know that their plights are being noted.
A Revenue Commission officer was of the opinion that the setup of an economic taskforce to regulate market prices should be put in place, to maintain and insist that market prices come down.
The end result of the review shows that, the people, both buyers and sellers, seem to be asking the government to come to their aid. Every day, the prices of things in the market escalate out of the reach of the poor. This leads to multiplication of substandard goods, which people consciously buy as an alternative in other to survive. According to them, they expected the change being advocated for, but not this kind of change.
The budget has been passed, but do Nigerians have the patience to wait for its implementation, after all it went through these past months?